All Posts tagged Mental Health

Fitting It In

by Kellie Boyle

Many adults come to counseling telling me they are aware of the importance of exercise but fitting it into their hectic schedule of a full-time job, kids, kids’ practices and extracurricular events plus commute time is nearly impossible. Other adults can find the time; however, the thought of exercise sounds miserable and the absolute last thing they want to be doing. I’ve had a few tips for them, that I’d like to also share with you.

Don’t call it exercise. If you are telling yourself you have to make time to exercise or go to the gym, when you are someone who dreads the so-called ‘gym’ or the word ‘exercise’, this will be much harder for you. It’s like telling yourself you must eat your broccoli tonight. Call it whatever you want to call it: “Heart work” “stress relief” “power hour”, heck, you could call it “boys night” if you want. Many people cringe when they think about stepping inside of a gym or the thought of stepping on a treadmill. It’s simpler than you have imagined; you don’t have to do either to exercise. Exercise can be putting on some music in your basement and dancing while you pick up all of your kids’ toys, it can be a walk around the neighborhood with your husband after dinner, it can be throwing the Frisbee with your dog, hiking to a beautiful waterfall, or even running down the sidelines as you coach your daughter’s soccer game. Are you someone who once enjoyed contact sports? Go join a rec league basketball team or a fun kickball team. Bottom line, be creative. There are several ways you can get exercise without stepping foot inside a gym.

Work it in with chores or parenting. Ok, so your kids and spouse may think you are strange if they see you doing jumping jacks in the middle of the hallway, but if you’ve got 2 minutes, you’ve got 2 minutes. If you are picking your kid up out of the crib, do a squat before you reach in and then after with your kid in your arms. Make silly faces at them each time you do a push up as they are practicing tummy time. Play hide and go seek with your kids. And really hide and really bend and stretch to get into those close corners. Make excuses to walk up and down your stairs, whether it’s carrying one laundry load at a time, or checking in on your teenager who hasn’t come out of their room in 4 hours. Incorporating your kids into these activities can be a great way to introduce them to healthy living also. Pets are other good excuses for exercise.

No matter where you are, you can almost always think of a way to exercise. Beach? Take a walk on the beach before you reach for that 4th Corona or bring out the boogie board you haven’t used in years. Just lugging around sand and water from the shore to the sandcastle is exercise. Work trip? Take the stairs. Most hotels these days have gyms and pools. Can’t do an hour workout? Do 15 minutes at a higher intensity. Or your normal intensity. It’s better than nothing at all.

I’ve seen people who absolutely despised exercise earlier in life become much more involved in their health and fitness because they have been able to find something that they really enjoy. Dance classes, yoga, even bowling can be a form of exercise. You could even get that purple jumpsuit Jesus wears in “The Big Lebowski.” (Major bonus points from your 5-year old, not so much from your 12-year old).

To summarize, if you can find something you enjoy doing or you can find some sort of activity that gets your heart rate up, even if it is not your typical type of exercise, it will be less of a chore and challenge for you. Start small, don’t beat yourself up if you skip, and go for that gold.

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What if you do a Google image search for sunrises and sunsets? After looking at hundreds of pictures what will you see? Can you actually tell the difference between a sunrise and sunset? Perhaps there is something about a sunset that makes it look different, or maybe it is something about you that you see a picture of the sun on the horizon and it seems like a sunset but maybe it is not.

We all see the world through our own lens according to how we think and feel, or what our attitude is. Maybe what we see is not what we think it is. Maybe we need to ask ourselves how our minds are shaping our perceptions.

We all need someone to challenge our assumptions sometimes, even though we may not realize it or want it. Sometimes a good friend or caring parent is there for us. Sometimes we hear from a co-worker or a neighbor.

There are times though, when we need more expert help in the process of looking within ourselves and uncovering the things that need attention. Healing within so that we can see more clearly the way ahead is hard work. It is also some of the most important and rewarding work there is. Do you need a guide on a healing journey?

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Luck

 

Luck
by Kellie Boyle

Luck is an interesting topic. There are different beliefs about what luck is and if it really exists. What is your belief in luck? Do you believe it is something that happens? Or do you believe it is something you create? Or maybe a little bit of both?

I will never forget a day I had working in vocational rehab. I took a young client of mine in for an interview at Target. The client sat through a series of questions (which were pretty standard) and towards the end of the interview, the Hiring Manager asked him the question: “Do you believe in luck?”. My client answered the question with no hesitation. It’s like he had thought this exact question through before. He explained that while he believes there is situational luck; for example, finding a dollar bill on the ground, he also believes that most types of luck do not happen by chance, and went further on to explain his reasoning. Sitting there, I was amazed at how sharp his answer was and thought to myself, how would I answer that question? The Interviewer was clearly impressed with his answer as well. He went on to explain his own belief in luck and why he thought the client had a creative, positive outlook on the subject. The interviewer explained that he does not believe in luck by chance, but he believes that you put yourself into a situation to become lucky. Let me break it down a bit…

What he meant by that is working hard and taking opportunities is allowing yourself to be put in a situation where you do become lucky because of the choices you made along the way. Sitting around hoping and wishing that you will one day catch a break and get lucky is unlikely to happen if you’re not putting your best foot forward. I like this idea about “creating your own luck” because it makes you think about things you could be doing to further yourself and put yourself in a better position. Did Lebron James get lucky by being tall and athletically talented? Sure, he had it in the cards for him, but there was also a lot of hustle, blood, sweat and tears along the way that got him to the point where now one would deem him lucky.

You could argue that not everyone was dealt the best hand of cards, but then again, how can you make the best out of the cards you were dealt? A lot of what is thought of as unlucky could also be spun into a positive outlook. “I hit every red light home from work today” could be turned into “I had more time than usual today to stop and look at the clouds and blue sky around me as I drove home”.

At times, you may even have to redefine luck. Luck may be to one person having good health, whereas, to another, it may be winning the lottery. Whatever your form of luck is, think about how it could change depending on your choices. Good luck 😊

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“I wouldn’t know what to talk about.”


“I wouldn’t know what to talk about.”
This is sometimes the reason people don’t go to counseling. You’re not quite sure what to say to the stranger in the room in front of you. However, something inside of you says that you need to discuss your day with someone else outside of family, friends, or co-workers. It can be awkward at first.

You essentially get invited into a room where there will be a possibility of comfortable chairs or even a couch. You then have the opportunity to tell someone you have never met before, what’s going on. It’s not like a medical exam in which you would sit on a table with crinkly paper. There are no pills or any shots. The counselor may ask you questions, sometimes on initial paperwork or in person that can be detailed and quite personal. Write down what you feel comfortable writing down, and eventually discuss things that you may not at first feel comfortable discussing. Don’t expect that every single counselor knows every detail of your life. They don’t know about you until you share about yourself.

If you’re coming into counseling to talk about not feeling great about your job, well then that’s what you talk about. Chat about not feeling great about your job and all the bits and pieces that go into that. Don’t feel like you need to discuss what was going on in your life when you were a five-year-old if you’re 45 years old and you’re simply not liking your job. However, know that if there are issues in addition to your job a qualified counselor can help you to talk through those things. A good counselor will not judge you for not wanting to talk.  A good, confident, clinically trained counselor will not judge you for any of your most intimate secrets.

Counselors are people that clients can come to talk about the hard or embarrassing stuff in life. Counselors are the people trained to not shy away from topics such as the mechanics of a sexual encounter, the pain of losing someone to suicide, or the thoughts that go on in your head that you might not feel like you want to be having. There is a very broad range of wellness and illness and with it comes the ideas and activities that each of us has in our daily life. A counselor can help you sift through them. Not every session is deep and dark and tricky. Some might be for some people, while other may never have these types of discussions. People come talk to us about their jobs, their parenting, their relationships, their next awesome business idea, or about the people that are bullying them and they just don’t know what to do. People talk to us about the life choices that they are making with drugs or alcohol and they want to find out more about healthful choices they can make for their bodies that may not be as damaging.

There is no right way or wrong way to talk to a counselor. Simply be the respectful person that you are and remember that the counselor is human too. Counselors themselves have been through many life experiences and hundreds of classes that can help guide you to make the decisions that are best for you. So, when you feel like you don’t know what to talk about with a counselor simply say that. Tell the counselor you have never sat with someone like this before and that you’re not sure what to do next. This is probably not a first session ever for the counselor, in which case they can guide you to help discover what it truly is that you’re there to talk about. Try it out. You never know what you might learn.

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Hopefest: Suicide Awareness Panel

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HopeFest 2016

–  by Anthea Isaacs  Marymount University Forensic Psychology Intern

Within smaller communities it is harder to receive information on mental health resources.  That is why in Loudoun County, VA, the first annual Hopefest: Health and Wellness Fair 2016 was held.  The fair included various mental health organizations within the are so the community could learn more about them.  A few centers that took part included Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS), Loudoun Citizens for Social Justice, Windward Optimal Health, and Boulder Crests Retreat for Military & Veteran Wellness.  These organizations and 37 others set up exhibits with information and fun activities for children.  There were also panels, which consisted of mental health professionals, law enforcement, and political influences that provided information on why there is an increased need for mental health awareness.

Guest lecturers discussed drug use within the community, eating disorders, and helping veterans after they returned home.  The suicide awareness and prevention panel which included Suzie Bartel, Dr. Sherry Molock, and Susan McCormick was of most interest to me. Suzie Bartel is the president of the Ryan Bartel foundation created in honor of her 17 year old son that committed suicide two years ago.  Dr. Molock is the director of clinical training in the department of psychology at George Washington University and works with churches to increase the awareness of suicide among teens. A short video that displayed several teens who shared how suicidal thoughts can affect an individual was shown.  Being supportive and listening to people may be way to help prevent a suicide attempt.

Ms. Bartel explained that she started the organization to prevent other parents from going through what she went through.  She explains there may be signs, especially with teens, that adults must pay attention and not dismiss as a phase.  Dr. Molock explained the importance of the church in being more accepting and less condemning of those with suicidal thoughts.  She explained how she works with churches to incorporate more open talks among teens about how they may be feeling.

The group spoke candidly about how parents and others adults could speak to those they believe are considering suicide.  They explained that many who want to talk to those they believe are suicidal, think asking them if they are suicidal will put the thought in their head. It would not. Many do not ask their friends or love ones if they are suicidal because they are afraid they will make them think they are.  Asking an individual if they are suicidal can be helpful to the individual.  It can give them an outlet to express their feelings and not feel alone.  It can be easy it is to hide from family and friends when you don’t feel good.  I have seen how damaging the shock can be to family and loved ones when the choice of suicide has become final.

Teens can take breakups with friends or relationships very hard. Listening to them and being aware of changes in behavior can be helpful in noticing when something is wrong.  Like teens, adults can display a change in behavior when depressed or contemplating suicide.  A common behavior that can be noticed is the giving away of sentimental objects and being withdrawn.  An individual may find a sense of peace when they have decided to commit suicide, which can be confusing for loved ones.  The acceptance of the act seems to create a sense of calm for the individual.  Those who were once irritable can all of a sudden be easygoing once they have decided to commit suicide.

I have seen how depression and the lack of communication can lead to losing someone unexpectedly.  Some conversations can be very hard and sad, but showing a little support can be the difference between someone believing they shouldn’t live or they should receive help.  Losing someone very close to you can be very hard to move on from.  Many do not know how to ask for help and support.  Being aware and there for that individual even if they may not want it could make the difference.  I enjoyed how honest and up front the panelists were about a topic that many are uncomfortable to talk about.  They created an awareness in me that no one should be ignored or left to go through something alone because you never know how hard it is for them.

 

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Back to School

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Well it’s that time of year again. The weather in the morning is starting to be cooler kids are all starting to rustle about school supplies and new to them clothes. As a mom I’m excited and sad all at once. I’m excited because it’s a new opportunity for my daughter to make new friends and to have her try out the skills that she’s been working this summer. I am excited for her and her new venture of first grade but I must say I’m a little sad because I enjoy being with my daughter. She’s a cool kid. I like the way she interacts with her younger sister. Like just last night she dressed her up as a ladybug and then as a butterfly, and then as a baby all the things a toddler likes to be.

My first grader will be gone about 40 hours a week between the buses and the classes. 40 hours is a lot of time.

40 hours to socialize, to sit, to run, to play, to do some more sitting. I can only hope as her mom that the things that she continues to learn from my husband and I are the things that transfer over to school such as, being the kind kid, not the bully. Being the person to reach out to the new person when they may not have any new friends. Being the person to share her things as she has plenty of things. I hope she has challenges and that she learns to fail gracefully and success happily. 40 hours – I will miss her and think about her for most of it.

This summer was a different kind of summer for her. While some of her friends may have been going off to far off places and seeing Disney World, my daughter got to learn what a Staycation looked like. She got to use local pools, go to local parks, learn to cook more, learn to negotiate with her sister, learn to take walks in nature. My student loans for my doctorate are absolutely daunting, so my daughter got the opportunity to learn what it was like to have to make choices and to continue to save up for the things that she thinks someday she might really want.

If I had it to do over again I’m still very glad I have my doctorate. A part of me wishes that the timing didn’t collide while I had my children. That’s the part I can’t do over. The nights that I studied that I can’t get back, the weekends that I wrote, the time I now need to work to pay it all off. I value education very much and am thankful that my first grader has access to a safe, wonderful, fair environment to launch her education with as well. I can’t begin to instill in a first grade girl how neat it is that she has the opportunity to discover whom she is becoming in as much of an equal environment as humanly possible to provide to her.

So that’s how I feel about first grade starting next week. I already know she will not be on the same bus as her best friend. She will not be in the same classroom as the other three kids she knows from last year. I’m going to let that unfold and for her to discover on Friday so that she can see who she can become without me influencing everything. The hardest part is the letting go as our kids grow. I watch and listen to parents sending their students off to college. It is about really remembering we are there for their guidance, we are there for mentoring, we are there to give them boundaries, but really the rest is all theirs not ours. I’m so lucky to be a parent and so lucky to be a parent of two very cool kids.

Happy School Year!

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